Commonwealth Games: Nile Wilson into the history books

Golden boy: Nile Wilson celebrates following his routine on the men's horizontal bar .
Golden boy: Nile Wilson celebrates following his routine on the men's horizontal bar .
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On a day when big name favourites failed, it was refeshing to see a Yorkshireman stand up to the pressure and make history.

While Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake was losing the 100m final and Adam Peaty was relinquishing his stranglehold on the breaststroke events, Nile Wilson was completing a memorable week on the Gold Coast.

The Leeds Gymnastics Club member took his medal tally in Australia to five by adding a silver in the parallel bars before returning two hours later to win gold in the horizontal bar, his favoured discipline.

It would have been two golds had Marios Georgiou of Cyprus not earned a higher score due to a higher execution in the parallel bars.

Nevertheless, the medal haul is historic and the amount of jewellery he will head home with, hugely impressive.

For the record, Wilson won three gold medals on the Gold Coast (team, all-round and horizontal bar) and two silvers in the rings and the parallel bars.

It is the single biggest haul by a representative of Team England in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

In total, Wilson has nine Commonwealth Games medals, five of them gold, after the four he won in Glasgow four years ago.

His efforts on the Gold Coast eclipsed those of more illustrious team-mates like Max Whitlock and Peaty and could see him elevated into their national levels of fame and notoriety.

Speaking after an exhausting schedule and the second of his medals yesterday, he appeared to be under no illusions as to the context of his five-medal haul at a tournament bereft of the sport’s traditional super-powers and in which his England team-mates served up his closest threat.

But the packed grandstands cheering Wilson and his fellow competitors through almost a week of action, and the challenges posed by some of his less favoured apparatus, have led Wilson to believe his Gold Coast success will form a critical part of his path to the top.

“I think the medal that stands out for me is my gold in the all-around coming off the back of my hand injury,” he said.

“That is still my baby and the pinnacle of gymnastics, being consistent enough across the board to come out on top.

“It’s a massive stepping-stone for the future.

“We might not have been amongst the best gymnasts in the world, but to soak up the environment and learn how to handle the pressure is a huge thing.”

Wilson’s high bar score of 14.533 was well down on his qualifying mark but enough to nudge team-mate James Hall into silver, confirming a 16-medal total for England’s relatively inexperienced gymnastics team.

Earlier, Wilson had been edged into silver on the parallel bars by Georgiou, who took gold due to a higher execution element, while Scotland’s Frank Baines won bronze.

Seventeen-year-old Alice Kinsella held her nerve to win her first major title on the women’s beam, scoring 13.7 to beat home favourite Georgia-Rose Brown into the silver medal position with team-mate Kelly Simm in bronze.

It was a significant achievement in the development of Kinsella, who will take a medal of each colour home from the Games and continue to build on her qualification for the all-around final at last year’s World Championships in Montreal.

There was a huge shock in the pool as Peaty lost for the first time in four years over 5om, South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh nudging him into second.

Peaty was magnanimous in defeat, congratulating Van der Burgh, but described the race as “probably one of the worst feeling races I’ve ever done”.

“Even though it’s a silver, I’m more happy with that silver than I was the gold the other day,” Peaty said.

“It gives me a reality check. Even if you are the best in the world, world record holder, you can still be beaten. I think that’s the most valuable lesson from today.

“Some people have down days and today was a down day for me. I was probably working at 90, 95 per cent. But to win races like that, when it comes down to a very fine margin, I need to be 100 per cent.

“As an athlete, obviously I’m disappointed. I’ve never had a 50m Commonwealth title. I’ve had the rest, but not this one.”

York’s James Wilby touched the line in third to complete the set of medals after gold in the 200m breastroke and silver in the 100m.

“This is really good because this is where I finally feel like I need to be,” said the 24-year-old.

“The aim now is to get a good cycle of work for the European championships, and then hopefully a podium position.”

Jamaica’s Blake admitted he underestimated his rivals as South Africa’s Akani Simbine claimed the 100m title at the Commonwealth Games.

Pre-race favourite Blake never recovered from an early slip as Simbine won in 10.03 seconds and Henricho Bruintjies clinched a South African one-two.

Blake clocked 10.19s and said: “I was supposed to win easily and I suppose I was too confident and maybe I over-thought it. I’ve been feeling great but I was stumbling and I just couldn’t recover.”